Chronic Kidney Disease: A Global Public Health Crisis

New York, NY (May 15, 2007) - Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is sweeping the shores of every country, and experts are urging governments to develop policies to address this public health crisis, according to a presentation delivered at the National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings.

"The big message is that CKD is common, harmful, and treatable," said Dr. Lesley Stevens of Tufts-New England Medical Center, chair of the symposium entitled CKD as a Global Public Health Problem: Approaches and Initiatives.

In developing countries, public health officials are reporting increased rates of conditions that put people at risk of kidney failure, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. This is a major concern, noted Dr. Stevens, since in many developing countries, treatment for kidney failure can be hard to come by.

"In developing countries, clinicians must treat CKD early, because when it progresses to kidney failure, they don't have the same resources as developed countries such as the United States," cautioned Dr. Stevens. "Every country should have a public policy for CKD."

CKD is also having a major impact on developed nations. In the U.S. alone, 11% of the adult population -- 1 in 9 people -- has CKD. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in developed countries, and CKD multiplies the risk of CVD. "CKD is an integral part of a cluster of diseases," Dr. Stevens noted.

Consequently, experts are urging public health officials in developed countries to mandate that clinicians test all patients with conditions that increase their odds of CVD (such as hypertension and diabetes) for CKD, and to establish a CKD action plan for everyone who is diagnosed.

During her lecture, Dr. Stevens presented more detailed recommendations to health care providers and researchers on the associations for cancer and infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, to CKD—particular concerns in developing countries.

Every country should have a detection/surveillance program for CKD, and a public policy to address CKD in citizens who are diagnosed, added Dr. Stevens. "This is a global health problem," she says. "We have to work together."

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